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'Water for Elephants': Can Robert Pattinson perform under the big top? [trailer]

December 16, 2010 |  5:19 pm

Robertpattinsonwfetrailer Though Robert Pattinson has slowly begun to carve out his post-"Twilight" acting career, many critics still wonder whether the young star has the acting chops to successfully move past the world of vampires. While it wasn't a flop at the box office, Pattinson's latest non-"Twilight" film, "Remember Me," barely registered with filmgoers.

But next year, it seems the actor will finally have a real chance to show audiences what he's got: he'll star opposite Uma Thurman in "Bel Ami" and with Reese Witherspoon in April's "Water for Elephants," for which a trailer was released Thursday.

Based on a bestselling historical novel released in 2006, "Elephants" centers around a veterinary school student named Jacob (Pattinson) who falls for circus performer Marlena (Witherspoon). Despite their shared affinity for the big top, the pair and their burgeoning romance are threatened by Marlena's husband (Christoph Waltz).

Neither of the romantic leads says much of anything in the trailer. Instead, it's filled with hazy, glowing shots of life in the circus: Jacob peeking in to catch a glimpse of Marlena in the center of the ring, delicately laying her svelte body across a horse; the two together, gently stroking one of animals.

We like the langorous, moody tone, though it's nearly impossible to judge from the trailer if Pattinson has any acting skills beyond that longing gaze thing. It's also mildly difficult to believe the 34-year-old Witherspoon could truly be wooed by a young man a decade her junior, but that's a conceit we think we'd be able to get over.

One definite bright spot in the trailer? Hal Holbrook, who plays an older version of Pattinson's character. [UPDATE, 7:05 PM: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Holbrook's character is a mentor to Pattinson's character.] We loved the 85-year-old's performance in "Into the Wild" a few years ago, and it seems his presence here will add weight to the film beyond the romance at its center.

-- Amy Kaufman


Photo: "Water for Elephants" poster. Credit: 20th Century Fox.


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Good article, but I think you missed the fact that Holbrook plays the Pattinson character as an old man not a mentor. That said, the trailer looked amazing. It was a teaser all right. I really wanna see this movie so I guess it did its job. And you can't get a feel for acting ability from this, heck if you did that then one would have to conclude that Waltz and Witherspoon couldn't act either and we know that's not true. Hopefully the movie will be all the trailer promised and more.

Tsk... We wouldn't expect the reviewer to have necessarily read the book, but perhaps the synopsis or character blurbs?

In the post Ashton-Demi world, are you really pfffting May-December romances? I guess you don't watch television either (Cougartown, anyone?). Ms. Witherspoon has never looked more glamorously alluring, thirty-four years and all.

One thing at least is easy to judge: it's a ballsy move for Pattinson to climb into the ring with talents like Waltz and Witherspoon. The young man's "longing" gaze must be forged out of steel.

There are, indeed, a few conceits floating around in the air here.

Wow, I don't think I've read such a sexist comment in some time. The author that wrote this piece has GOT to be a man, straight or gay, who knows nothing about women. Do you honestly believe a hot handsome as all hell specimen like Pattinson (or his character) would hold no sway over a 34 yr old woman? Are you demented, slow-witted, or just extremely misogynistic? You have to be aware that women 8 to 80 have been lusting over this guy for the last 3 years right? I can't believe that the LA Times has someone so clueless (and insulting to women everywhere) writing for them. I look forward to your next piece where you question whether or not a 34 yr old man can be wooed by a 25 yr old woman? Ridiculous isn't it? I'm done with the LAT ET section. This was just too much. Oh, and before you start casting doubt on what the guy is capable of, why don't you wait until springtime when his film releases. It seems you're already setting up a 'typecasting' straw man scenario for him, before he even gets out of the gate. As you pointed out, he is just 24, give him a gd break.

I love that this teaser trailer is being covered so thoroughly on the web but lord if journalists aren't just getting lazier by the minute. At least when it come to ANYTHING attached to Robert Pattinson.

This poor guy (who by all accounts seems to be a really cool and nice young man just trying to work) is climbing up a hill that the critics (and little bloggers) won't seem to even let him get half way up. If they're not making snarky comments about sparkling or brooding, the pens are out in full force asking over and over again if the kid can act...does he have chops....can he become more than Edward Cullen.

Newsflash, what the hell do people think he was doing in Remember Me or the Bad Mother's Handbook or the Haunted Airman, etc? He wasn't blowing bubbles for cracker's sake; he was acting. Was he award-worthy? No, but then do you see him going around saying he was?

I understand that Pattinson is the face of a pop phenomenon that's an in your face/doesn't want to end affair (please let it end!), but what happened to fair shots or second chances? I don't see a million journalists asking if other young, fairly new actors can act and please don't tell me it's because they all come out of the womb chewing scenery and taking Leonardo DiCaprio-type Oscar prisoners at the beginning of their careers. And this IS!! the beginnng of Pattinson's career.

No, they get time to hone their skills in quieter, smaller projects without so much snark and scrutiny facing them everywhere they turn. They aren't expected to go from Z-list to A-list-- able to leap tall buildings and save the movie business profitable overnight like they EXPECT this kid to do. They get a pretty fair shot at Hollywood's door and they get it without a whole passel of Dr. Evil's looking over their well-chiseled shoulders and you know it.

Pattinson was an out of work, broke actor who was lucky enough to get a job and maybe (and that's a BIG maybe) unlucky enough that that job was Twilight. Journalists need to stop holding Twilight against him, lay off the snark and judge him fairly.

It's funny...In reading reviews for Remember Me, a good amount of critics mentioned being surprised by Rob or even praised what he did with that role (which -- by the way -- has pulled in almost 58 million dollars on a 16 million dollar budget). I actually thought journalists might start to take him a little more seriously when he started getting work like Bel Ami with Kristin Scott Thomas (handpicked for that role by a renowned theater director) or Water for Elephants with Waltz.

These productions (and professionals) don't need to see if he can act; they know he can or he wouldn't have been hired. The last thing they need is the Twilight guy bogging their movies down just because he's the latest flavor of the month. They hired him because they believe in him and he's showed them he's got something special.

It's about time the bloggers and journalists out there start to understand that because no matter how many ways you all can say sparklepants out loud or wonder to your readers if the vampire boy "can even act," it won't change the fact that that yes, he can, and some day you might feel silly not having recognized that fact.

Why on earth is it difficult to believe that a 34 yr old could be wooed by a younger man? especially one that, from what I can tell, has already wooed half the planet?

If the writer had read the book, she would have known that Marlena (Reese Witherspoon's character) is 27 years old. Besides, wake up! It's the 21st century and plenty of women in their 30s become involved with men in their 20s. It's too bad that a female writer continues to promote the dated stereotype that only men can date a younger person of the opposite sex.

Did I miss something? Why is it SOOOOO difficult to fathom a 34 yr old woman falling in love with a 24 yr old man? We're not being asked to believe that Ms. Witherspoon's character would fall in love with some schmuck playing video games in his parents' basement.. instead she falls in love with Jacob who is very mature, hard working, and compassionate, and who by the way is being playing by the uber-gorgeous Robert Pattinson.

Why for godssake do critics continue to talk about Robert Pattinson's acting shops? I saw countless actors, young and older, unknown and famous delivering performances who were good one time and weak another time. Even the biggest actors aren't always believable re the lack of chemistry between Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp in The Tourist. I saw Oscar winning actors of whom I thought: Is this why they got an Oscar for?

But Robert Pattinson? He has to prove again and again and again that he has talent. He made the iconic Edward Cullen, beloved by millions of fans of the books, immortal and was the reason of the immense succes of the Twilight Saga, not Kristen Stewart or Taylor Lautner. And that because he couldn't act? If so, the fans of the books would've slammed him down. No, because he put his all to bring Edward alive, one of the most difficult characters to perform. It doesn't matter if you like the Saga or not, these are the facts.

Only 20 years old, he performed a traumatized WWII pilot, suffering from mental disease in The Haunted Airman. The script was messy but Rob was brilliant. And this opinion comes from someone who's working in psychiatry for more than 30 years, so I can judge his acting abilities in this movie quite well, thank you.
Rob has an intensity in his way of looking that almost no other actor can deliver. Look at this trailer to know what I'm talking about. With one look he says it all. He just doesn't need many mimics to express a feeling. If people only could see it this way. But in real life he's just hilarious in the variety of his facial expressions.

But I'm quite sure that critics will give him again negative reviews, he just doesn't want to play the game in Hollywoodland and that's why he is so respected by women from 8 to 80 years old. It's not his good looks only.
Sorry for mistakes, English isn't my native language.

Amy, I cannot believe you said this: It's also mildly difficult to believe the 34-year-old Witherspoon could truly be wooed by a young man a decade her junior, but that's a conceit we think we'd be able to get over." You are very ignorant of women. Shame on you for insulting them.

Critics are still obsessively focusing on whether Pattinson can act, although he's proved that he can in a number of films besides the Twilight Saga movies. The writer commented that in the trailer, Pattinson only gazes longingly at Marlena. Actually, in the trailer, he has fun with Rosie the elephant, tends to her wounds after Rosie is harmed, takes in the Benzini Circus scene for the first time, plays cards with Camel, and is embarrassed and jealous as he watches Marlena's husband kiss her. He shows a lot more range than the writer gives him credit for.

i agree chris. from the teaser you really can't tell who can act. we already know that reese, christoph, and hal are great actors because we've seen them be great actors. rob's still new to game. hopefully he will find his footing with this movie.

Now, that I hear that another female actually made the snarky comment about Reese's age, and Pattinson being too young for her (it's 9 years honey, not 19 like most male lead/female lead films in Hollywood), I'm shocked and disappointed - but I find women act very bizarre where Pattinson is concerned. The level of intensity he evokes in these complete female strangers can be quite scary. As a result, I take the author's comment about the age difference as just more evidence that women that don't know him, feel some kind of proprietal crazy attachment to him, that automatically makes them snap/snark/bite at other women lucky enough to be his co-stars or his girlfriend. Seriously, it's true.

Strange how the gorgeous pairing of 24-year-old Pattinson with 34-year-old Witherspoon draws your not-so-kind comments, when there is not a word about the pairing of Witherspoon with the man who plays her husband in the film: Chrisoph Waltz, who is twenty years her senior (54).

Once again, the pairing of older man, younger woman goes unnoticed.

Pattinson is playing a character that is 23 in the book, Witherspoon is playing a 27-year-old. Are they spot on the money with their ages? No. But is it wildly off? Also no.

How about letting all three actors do their jobs and then see how it all works out rather than making these assumptions based on a two-minute teaser trailer.

again, lets give this young man the opportunity to prove himself without us being so critical......we all start somewhere.....i really feel he has great potential if we just leave him alone.....

i think he will do great. i think he is a very good actor.
Also I don't think the age difference between Rob and Reese is an issue. If the man were older no one would think twice about it. It would be very easy to believe Reese's character could be wooed by Pattinson. I am excited to see this movie - I loved the book and love Rob!

Nice review. You basically stated that you couldn't tell anything about the performances from the trailer and then went on to say that the romance at it's center would hold little weight. Which is it? Sounds like you're geared up to be a hater critic already. Perhaps you should wait to see the film?

Robert Pattinson has proven himself with the in depth analization of his characters in all of his roles. Remember Me was a very good movie, and he did an exceptional job. I believe people are just wanting to underrate his ability because his volume is work is low, but how else do you begin. People who have seen the film with me, whose attention is seldom held throughout a movie, were transfixed until the end of Remember Me and thought it was excellent as I did. Give him a chance. He is a very, very good actor. I wish more people could have seen Remeber me as it was a beautiful and touching story that should have been released closer to the 9-11 date! Loved it!

I read this article because I wanted information about the upcoming movie since I read and enjoyed the book. The author of this piece could have been more informed about the topic if he/she read the book--or heck, even a synopsis of the book. Witherspoon's character is in a difficult/abusive marriage and falls in love with Jankowski (Pattinson). If you had an inkling about the characters Marlena and Jacob, the question of believability for Witherspoon and Pattinson would be a nonissue.

I suppose in all fairness the author actually meant to focus on questioning Pattinson's acting skills and not really on the movie/story. Considering this, the article is adequate.

And just for the record, Pattinson is two decades my junior and he could woo me in a heartbeat. Definitely.

I really like reading the comments and agree with some of u. I believe critics need to give Rob a chance. Don't get it twisted, Rob's talent got women back into Theaters paying.....

For more info: http://thwi.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/robert-pattinson-next-movie/#more-808

Personally, I am really looking forward to this film. Unfortunately, unless Robert Pattinson's PR team gets things under control, his performance will be overshadowed by his personal relationship with Kristen Stewart. The media is going to focus more on her presence at the premiere and every second she's by is side, which is going to annoy adult audience goers who want to go see a good film without having to deal with the Twi-fan-atics.

If Robert Pattinson just stood there and said nothing, I would be happy to see him. He is a sight to behold!


Am I the only person who finds it absolutely absurd that a trailer, rather than the film itself, is being reviewed??? Is there really so little going on in entertainment news that this is the best you can come up with?

I was a 34 year old wooed by a man 10 years my junior. A man who is now my husband. What a sexist, insulting statement. Idiot!


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